Monday, 23 November 2015

Why Save Your Baby’s Cord Blood?

Why save baby cord blood? What are its benefits? Is it worth the money? Blood present in the baby’s umbilical cord contains stem cells. Multipotent adult stem cells present in the umbilical cord blood make it a precious resource in the medical and research field. And that is why baby’s cord blood, which was once discarded as medical waste, is now collected and saved for long term storage. The first human transplant using cord stem cells was performed in 1988. It was for treating Fanconi anemia – an inherited disease that mainly affects the bone marrow. Cord blood that was used to treat only one disease at that time can now treat nearly 80 diseases.

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) present in the baby cord blood can be used to restore the damaged blood cells in our body. Developed from mesodermal hemangioblast cells, HSCs are self-renewing progenitor cells that has the potential to generate multitude of cell types found in the blood stream including red blood cells, white blood cells and megakaryocytes. Hematologic and nonhematologic cancers, autoimmune disorders, various forms of anemia and immunodeficiency disorders can be treated with the cord blood Hematopoietic stem cell transplants (HSCTs). Why cord blood stem cell transplants are gaining wide acceptance in the medical community? Cord blood stem cell transplants require a less-stringent HLA match and carry a lower risk of graft-vs-host disease. Moreover, the transplant outcomes are more effective and better with cord blood applications when compared to other transplant methods. 

Stem cells are not only present in the cord blood, but also in the surrounding tissue.  Umbilical cord tissue is a rich source of Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). This type of multipotent connective tissue cells can develop into a variety of cell types such as bone cells, cartilage cells, muscle cells and fat cells. Many scientists are striving harder to discover the cord tissue benefits and applications. Currently research and clinical trials are going on to better understand the potential of cord tissue. According to the scientists, cord tissue MSCs can be used to treat Liver fibrosis, Parkinson’s disease, Rheumatoid arthritis and lung cancer to name a few.

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